No one in our government is officially calling our current economic condition a recession, but I’ll bet you’ve heard the word a few times lately.

This year has started rough and turbulent.

CEOs and leaders in the cable industry are talking about “headwinds” coming their way, and they have all been actively battening down the hatches.

The economy—the biggest unknown—will dictate their next turn course of action. For them, the quickest and most effective way of trimming expenses is laying off employees.

Over the last three years, there have been 7.5 to 8 million unemployed workers in our country which is nearly 5% of our workforce at any given time. But of course, this isn’t any given time this may be the “R” time. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average unemployment time has been 17.5 weeks, these days, who knows?

It’s a common management mind-set that mid-career cable TV executives, who have been at the same company for a while, can become complacent.

No matter how secure you think you are, you must stay on top of trends and do what it takes to stay competitive in your job and your company. It is called “career currency,” because it’s really all about staying current.

Here’s some tips on how to do that.

Inventory your professional skills. What have you done for yourself lately? For example, how many times have you put off that executive WICT learning class or breakout session that your HR Department has asked you to attend?

Don’t miss an opportunity to demonstrate to management that you’ll grab all opportunities for improving your professional performance, even if it’s already considered stellar. Improve your skills by better understanding the challenges of our industry, marketplace trends and those issues facing your management.

Rub elbows with people within and outside your company. CTAM events, SCTE seminars and meet-the-executive breakfasts are all great opportunities to meet others, and more importantly, a great way for them to know you.

Share with them what you do and your vision for your job and your department. Building a network of colleagues can enhance your reputation in the industry, and those positive impressions will reverberate back to your management.

Maintain your personal list of clear goals for your career. Are you focused on where you want your career to go? Scan the want ads, not for jobs, but to understand your strengths in terms of the current market’s vocabulary. Figure out how you are uniquely qualified to solve problems that exist in our industry. Look to become the ‘solutions person.’ Actively seek ways to step into a leadership role to define a problem and work to solve it.

At the end of the day, it’s about you—your competence, value, and abilities—and you need to convey your passion every day.

When your boss, CEO, or department head looks around to see who can help them, your attitude, energy, and willingness to jump into the fray will put you on their team.

Market your passion; enhance your career for today and tomorrow. You want to keep your job? Make a difference. NOW is the time.

Maggie Bellville is a partner in the Atlanta-based executive search firm Carter Baldwin. She can be reached at

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